Jammu: Some of the civilians picked up by Indian forces’ personnel last week in Poonch district in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir have spoken about the harrowing ordeal they went through in custody. Notably, three civilians died after they were mercilessly beaten by the occupation troops during questioning while in custody.
Speaking from his hospital bed, one of the men Mohammad Ashraf (52) said he and four others were picked up by Indian forces’ personnel last week after which “they removed our clothes and beat us with lathis and iron rods, and rubbed chilli powder on our wounds”.
Ashraf and four others were admitted to Government Medical College Hospital in Rajouri on Saturday.
“I am the person in the viral video that shows a man being beaten with iron rods and lathis by Army personnel,” Ashraf said, referring to a video that was widely shared on social media. He said he has not been able to sleep since last Saturday due to the trauma. “Who can sleep when you have severe pain all over the body and the thoughts of torture haunt your mind the moment you close your eyes?” he said.
The other four admitted at the Rajouri hospital with Ashraf are Farooq Ahmed, 45, and Fazal Hussain, 50, as well as Hussain’s nephews Mohammad Betab, 25, and another aged 15. They are all from the Thanamandi area.
Ashraf said none of them can stand or even sit up properly. “They (hospital staff) take us on wheelchairs or stretchers when we have to be moved for tests or to go to the toilet,” he said.
He said that he was picked up by the troops from his home at around 9.30 am on Friday. “They took me to Manyal Gali near DKG (Dehra Ki Gali) where their colleagues were already sitting with Farooq Ahmed in a Tata Sumo [vehicle]. After some time, Mohammad Betab and his brother were also brought, and they all took us to their camp at DKG,” he said. “After we reached there, at 10.30 am, they switched off our mobile phones and started beating us with lathis and iron rods without saying anything,” he said. “After some time, they removed our clothes and again started beating us with lathis and iron rods, and rubbed chilli powder on our wounds until we fell unconscious.”
The 15-year-old, who is studying in class 10, is admitted in the same room at the Rajouri hospital. He said that during questioning, the forces’ personnel asked him whether he had provided food to mujahideen and referred to a feast that was held at his house eight days prior to the attack.
“I told them that the feast was organised for the marriage of my brother, Betab,” he said. He said that after these questions, he was beaten along with the others.
Betab, a labourer who worked in Kashmir, had come home nearly two months ago for his wedding, which took place on December 15. “I had planned to stay at home for around a month before going back to work in Kashmir,” he said. He also said that he was beaten up: “There is no skin left on my upper body.”
Disclaimer: ‘Stripped, beaten & smeared with chilli powder on wounds’: Poonch civilians recount ordeal in Indian army custody - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view